Defining What Netflix Will Be, or Eight Reasons to Give Sense8 a full 3rd Season

19477719_10155330533657095_1420082545618168163_oAs most people know, on June 1st, Netflix decided not to renew Sense8.  Fans of the Wachowski Sisters + J Michael Straczynski show, a show that weaves a global narrative to tell a very human story of eight people sharing their minds, knowledge, and empathy, were devastated that the story would not have a third season.  Many knew that it only had one more season of story, but Netflix decided not to renew.  Then the fanbase rallied and wrote and tweeted and called out! and helped show-writers garner a 2 hour special for Sense8!  Amazing!

I am so happy that we get 2 hours to wrap up Sense8, and don’t take this blogpost here as less than gratitude for that 2 hours.  But I’d like to make a bigger case for you–a case you haven’t heard–about giving Sense8 a whole season based on what might be good for Netflix, not just for fans.

While there has been speculation as to why the show was not renewed, that’s speculation.  Netflix spends a lot of money trying to find hit series, and sometimes a good series doesn’t find the right market.  When the cancellation happened, there was plenty of anger towards Netflix, and, in the moment, I even threatened to dump Netflix.  But I love Stranger Things, and I watch Star Trek, Daredevil, Luke Cage, etc.  It would be hard for me to dump Netflix for good.  I know, they’re counting on that–they’ve made us LOVE this service. Okay.

Instead of eight negative reasons to renew Sense8, I want to give 8 positive reasons to renew Sense8 for a whole last season.  I want to give them something they can go to the marketing table with and say—“Let’s do one more season.” (Please especially consider #7)

Ultimately, right decisions aren’t made because of negative consequences but because the positive consequences are stronger.  We aren’t charitable because of Fear of Hell or Fear of Bad Publicity.  We are charitable because we want to help.

Why Netflix Would Want to Complete a Third Season of Sense8

1. NETFLIX IS COMMITTED TO COMPLETION: Sense8 has exactly ONE more season.  It’s a three season arc.  You renew that last season, you are a hero, and the story is complete, and people bingewatch the three seasons for years afterwards on Netflix.  They will come to Netflix for those three seasons.  You’re not having to commit to an unknown number of seasons, or risking anything AFTER this season.  You already committed two seasons and they were amazing, and fans loved them, and they are almost home-free.  You create NEW fans by following through on your series.  But MORE people will become afraid to watch or commit to a new series if the series could be cancelled before it’s finished.  The more unfinished series, the more Netflix becomes untrustworthy for a new viewer.  The positive spin: you complete series, and they can be assured that when they watch a series on Netflix, especially with the millions of fans this series has created, that it will have closure–that series runners will know ahead of time that their series must establish closure.  This one is close to being finished.

2.  NETFLIX EDUCATES ITS VIEWERSHIP ABOUT VIEWERSHIP.  You teach Netflix viewers about Viewership using Sense8.  Part of the shock of this announcement was that viewers thought that their fan base was enough.  We don’t get to watch the Viewership numbers like you do, so we can’t tell when to rally, or how we’re doing, or if we’re about to fall.  It’s a bit unfair to a very large group of fans to say that their numbers are not enough.  What kinds of viewership help make your decisions?  Do you need a certain number every week?  And how do you calculate when you drop 10 episodes over a weekend?  How many times should we view it?  How many tweets do you need?  How many blogposts analyzing the show?  If you give us those numbers, WE CAN HELP SAVE THE SHOWS WE LOVE.  I guarantee that the fanbase for Sense8 is the most dedicated fan base you’ve ever had (more on that below).  But telling us to love a show and then, when it’s not good enough, taking it from us without telling us how to celebrate and support it correctly can be very bad in the long run–it leaves a bad taste in fans’ mouths.  Netflix needs to teach its viewers what matters to save a show–how can we love a show enough to keep it if we don’t know what you need?  If not, fans won’t try a show till a second season is guaranteed…or may just not try it unless you do what you did with The Crown, and guarantee 6 seasons to tell that arc.

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Some Peace and Community for Queer Ghosts: Queer Ghost Hunters Series

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I’ve been charmed by a Youtube docu-series: Queer Ghost Hunters. It is unlike anything else in the genre of ghost hunting reality series.

Yes, it’s remarkably well-produced and edited.  It’s funny, and it’s poignant, deeply moving at times.

The Stonewall Columbus Queer Ghost Hunters accomplishes these things because it’s doing everything so differently than other ghost hunter shows.

  1.  They aren’t reacting to a disturbance or a sighting.  The ghost hunters don’t (so far) go to a place because they’ve been called by folks disturbed by ghost activity.  They are seeking out where they believe queers would have gone in cities and rural areas.  Theatres, prisons, convents.
  2.   The goal is not to get the ghost on tape, or to prove that ghosts exist.  The show takes as a premise that ghosts exist.  Their goal: to provide a safe space for queer ghosts to talk about what it was like living queer in different moments of history.
  3. They’re looking for QUEER ghosts specifically.  Their focus drives their narrative.  They are looking to bring a safe community to a group of queers who can’t move out of their places to find other queers. ( It’s not like ghosts can pack up and go to San Francisco or Greenwich Village.)  The show’s aim is to chat amiably with queer ghosts who may not have had anyone to talk to in their lives about being queer.
  4. All of the ghost hunters fall on the Queer spectrum: genderfluid, lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered, pansexual, even a bear. 🙂   This is about diversity in the cast as well as diversity in the ghosts, but they are talking about LGBT issues.
  5. This is MORE than just ghost hunting: it is an examination of the history of LGBT people and, in some ways, how people lived, hid, coped with being queer in different places.  In that, it is a reflection–and a chance–for people to talk about what it is to live as queer in any time.

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Writing the LGBT Spiritual Journey, Saturday, April 5, Fountain Street Church, Grand Rapids, MI

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Please join us in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the weekend before the Festival of Faith and Writing (at Calvin College), for Writing the LGBT Spiritual Journey Workshop, APRIL 5, SATURDAY, 9am–5pm.

For the LGBT person of faith, the journey has not been easy.  Many of us are refugees from mainline denominations that offer faith but only to some, or only with clauses attached.  Some of us have escaped into better, more accepting faiths or denominations–but that journey may not have been easy.  Charting our spiritual journey, though, can help bring focus and fulfillment to our lives as part of the LGBT community.  Writing our spiritual journeys also completes the missing parts of society’s spiritual journey.  In this Workshop we will read LGBT writers of faith, as well as writers of faith in general, to pick up tips and techniques that will help you write about your journey.  If you like discussing spirituality in the context of the LGBT community, with others like yourself, and exploring through writing what your journey has discovered, come join us.  Using writing exercises, games, techniques of professional writers, and your own lives, you will create writing that struggles, overcomes, even heals, as it maps the spiritual journey of your life.  All faiths are welcome.  All struggles are welcome.  Even if your spirituality doesn’t fall neatly in a box, join us.  Boxes aren’t the best places for spirituality anyway.

This class needs a minimum of five people to run.  Some reading will be sent to you via email before the workshop begins. Cost is $80 per person.  Sign up early so we can be sure that the workshop runs, and that you receive readings for the workshop.  Bring a journal, a pen, and the heart of an explorer.

For more information, and to sign up, please contact Fountain Street Church.

Saturday, April 5, 9am-5pm
Fountain Street Church
(616) 459-8386
To sign up for this class, please follow this link to EventBrite:

Gays Will Save the Church: my story in Queer Story Archives

As a science fiction/fantasy writer, I just want to remind folks that we aren’t all alike, and we don’t live in just one bubble. My blog has always been about the experience of being a science fiction/fantasy writer and not just reflecting the genre/writing parts—but about my whole experience of being a Yukoner, of having a faith, of being gay–AND being a science fiction/fantasy writer. So this is part of it.

The Queer Story Archives came up to Whitehorse–Lulu from OnMyPlanet.ca–in July 2013, recording stories of Yukon Queers, and we recorded this right before I was to leave for Dayton, Ohio. I think it’s turning into a positive story so I’m sharing it. Ultimately I’m suggesting that including gay people can save a rapidly diminishing Church population. To do that, I tell my story. Some of you have heard it–either through the Yukon News, or through DNTO. Both sources were good but heavily edited. This is me telling it in less than ten minutes. It feels better in my own words, complete.

We grow from hard times in our lives and this was a good growth for me. Eventually, I’ve come to retain and re-establish many friendships from the first church. I hope my story still helps others. I’m placing this over on Talking Dog too.

Bullying the Met Opera is not a way to treat a gay ally

 

Most Americans already agree that the new law banning gay expression and propaganda by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is draconian, oppressive, discriminatory and against the human rights of the LGBT community.  The United Nations yesterday (August 19) issued a statement to Russia and Moldova to repeal those laws. Leaders of countries, including Pres. Obama, have made strong statements against those laws.  Countless individuals have taken stands.

 

Which brings me to the MET Opera, and the current controversy over a petition that is trying to force the MET to turn their production of Eugene Onegin into a political statement for gay rights.  The gist of the argument is that:

a. Tchaikovsky is a Russian composer–a gay one–and Eugene Onegin is a Russian story

b.  Anna Netrebko (soprano) and Valery Gergiev (conductor) are Russians who have vocally supported Putin in the past.  Let’s make them prove their loyalty.

c.  The oppressive law from Putin needs a huge American venue to vocalize our anger at Russia.  The Met looks dandy.

Some have already pointed out that the MET is not a battleground for arguing a composer’s beliefs and opinions.  Who would perform Wagner if his beliefs were paramount to enjoying the music?

Just because a) Tchaikovsky is a gay Russian composer doesn’t mean the MET has to take a political stand.  The nature of Art is that it is in itself a political stand.  Let Eugene Onegin speak for itself.  It’s a powerful work.  Onegin’s disrespect for a whole group of people makes him pass up true love and end up alone.  That speaks volumes.

The petition names the conductor, Gergiev, and the diva soprano, Netrebko, as “supporters in the past of Mr. Putin”.  In the past, I have been a supporter of US policy.  Does that make me a supporter of Bush?  Or current laws produced by Congress?  No.  Does that make me like everything that Obama does?  I can’t go to Canada and tell them that I agree with how Obama is treating Canada economically.  Netrebko, the soprano, has voiced her LGBT support (prompted by the threat of LGBT backlash!).  Are we requiring a show of loyalty to gays?  Prove to us, we seem to say, that you support gays by denouncing Putin and dedicating your performance to LGBT people.  That’s like asking Obama to wear a flagpin to PROVE he’s patriotic and that he loves America.  Why can’t he just say he loves America?  Because some people want him to bow to pressure.  It was silly then; it’s silly now.  Punishing Netrebko and Gergiev based on PAST support of Putin–when they have said nothing in support of those current anti-gay laws–is wrong.  It’s bullying.

The Met Opera c) is not a handy vehicle for your political expression.  It can be a vehicle for political expression by the director of the Opera being produced, or by the MET itself, but it doesn’t have to be.  It’s their choice to show support, not our choice.  If it’s forced, it’s not real.  Further: The Art itself is powerful.  Adding statements to the art diminishes the art.

But what have you done for me lately, Met Opera?  What the MET already does for LGBT people:

The Metropolitan Opera gives LGBT people the opportunity that Russia never gave Tchaikovsky: the ability to be an out performer, an out stagehand, an out composer, costume designer, etc.  It gives LGBT people jobs and freedom of expression.  Russia still DOES NOT offer this.

The MET has performed operas with gay themes:  Billy Budd for example.  Sure, I’d love it if directors substituted men in women’s roles to shake things up a bit (as easily as those who direct Shakespeare do), but composers have written for ranges, not genders, specifically.  Music must sound harmonic and beautiful.  You just can’t have, usually, a man replacing a woman in a role.  However, the opera does often cast women in male roles that sometimes require higher vocal ranges–and so, onstage, one gets to see what looks like a lesbian romance (see Anna Bolena, for example, where the man in love with Anna Bolena is played by a woman, and Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito, and multiple other operas I have seen).

At the MET, they would have no problem staging and performing a well-written opera WITH gay themes.  Write a Billy Budd.  Write a lyrical, thoughtful version of the AIDS crisis, or of Fred Phelps, or Greg Louganis, or Ellen…. the MET might produce it on its artistic merits.  Try that in Moscow.

They are already a gay ally.  Forcing them to dedicate the night to gays in Russia, or turning over proceeds, or making Netrebko and Gergiev meet and greet with LGBT people to prove loyalty is too much.  It’s like saying, I don’t believe GLAAD cared enough for Katrina victims.  I’m going to require them to turn over proceeds of GLAAD events, verbally show support, help out in the clean-up of Katrina, etc.  Or maybe I should start requiring all American opera singers to denounce the oppressive economic foreign trade policies of Obama whenever they perform in an international venue.  Will that be enough?  Are performers required to make political statements before every performance?  No, they are required to be artists and to be damn good at what they do, not appease the morals of majorities or minorities in the causes they have.  I’m happy if Sting says something in support of a cause I care about, but I won’t stop buying Sting’s CDs if he doesn’t verbally say something I want to hear.  I want to hear him sing.  I want to hear Anna Netrebko sing.

Bullying

I find the current culture of celebrity/organizational bullying (especially by the LGBT community) to be unacceptable.  We have far more effective means at our disposal besides bullying.  We have targeted a Latvian producer of vodka, Stoli–whose CEO is a gay ally–to dump in protest of Russia.  This neither hurts Russia, nor does it hurt an anti-gay supporter.  It hurts an ally.  The argument that this raises the issue in the consciousness of your average person is unproven.  No one can say that the dumping of Stoli is solely responsible for raising awareness of the anti-gay Russian policies.  The news has reported on this quite a bit.  And they got it from Twitter or from their reporters or from other sources.  They didn’t have to watch someone dump Stoli to suddenly become a capable reporter.  It’s a argument fallacy to say that one thing causes another if there is no direct proof.  (see post hoc ergo proctor hoc in any English textbook)  A graph of awareness is not proof of direct cause.  Anymore than I could say that Dan Savage’s tweets alone caused the awareness to shift.

Yes, I know it’s a petition, not a law requiring compliance.  But there’s been talk of booing the performance, of holding the MET accountable, of withdrawing support, and right now creating a lot of bad media about the MET.  Asking me to help is one thing: berating me when I say no is not.

As a gay man, I appreciate vocal support.  I do not require it from every person who comes on TV, every ad, every organization.  Sometimes, organizations show support by BEING supportive.  Not by wearing a rainbow pin.  Opera has given us music, story, relationships, history, comfort, excitement, Art in the highest form, allowed LGBT artists to be themselves (in this country, definitely)–it has done more to transform LGBT lives for hundreds of years than one gala night of verbalized, forced support could ever do.  And if the MET is forced to comply with the oppressive tactics of some in the LGBT community, then our community will become the dictatorship, limiting freedom of expression, and forcing compliance and obedience in everyone around us.  If we become those who judge others based on whether they promote and shout out their support of us, then we have proven that we are a fragile community, reliant on fear and intimidation to get our way, always insecure even inside of a country that is on a steady march to full equality.  We will have proven that Bush adage: “If you are not with us, you are against us.”  That brought us a war.  In that moment we force idelogical obedience, we become the Putins.

CBC’s DNTO to air my story on Coming Out to My Church for “Lost Causes”

Definitely Not the Opera, (DNTO) a CBC Radio One program devoted to the art of storytelling in Canada, asked me to tell my story of coming out to my church for their Nov 3 show “Lost Causes”.

I had pitched the idea to them last year for a different show called “Making Enemies” but withdrew the pitch because a) I don’t think I meant to make enemies, nor do I think I have made enemies; and 2) because I didn’t want to restir a pot that has finally calmed down.

But they remembered my pitch.  And they sought me out.  Which is humbling, and cool.  We recorded on Friday morning and they are editing my lengthy story to 3-4 minutes.  I appreciate Andrew Friesen’s belief that my story was important and needed to be told.  I feel like the story is more appropriate under “Lost Causes” because trying to reason with people who don’t want to listen to you, or discuss with you–and believing that you alone have to spark change–well, it can feel like a “Lost Cause”.  But in the end–and the end hasn’t come yet–who knows if the cause is lost?  I think every person who says the church must look at the evidence, must consider the Christian testimonies of LGBT folks in the discussion, is a step towards change.  We need more people who realize how many people have fallen away from the faith, have decided against Christ, have been repelled from the church, and who, sometimes when there is no hope left, taken their own lives, all because the Church has historically refused to consider the scriptures in an accepting light–and this causes their members to refuse to accept their children in an accepting light.  This splits familes.  My God and my Christ are not what I encounter when I come into a Baptist Church anymore.  I daresay they wouldn’t recognize it.  Churches are not all one defined Mass though–as many churches are beginning to change their minds about LGBT people.  Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Canada–all have begun seeing that this is just the next issue the church has to rethink.  As it did slavery, race, and its treatment of Women.  And divorce.  Change comes when people inside churches decide they can’t hold false doctrine anymore.  Christianity and Faith are not the problem.  Interpretation is.

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Hidden Histories: towards an LGBT history curriculum for California Schools

I was over on Talking Dog this afternoon and reading about how California teachers are having to come up with curriculum fast for a new law that requires them to teach LGBT history in schools.  I don’t think teachers have to overhaul everything—but I do think a quick version might be able to make things better for January.

So I devised Hidden Histories. 

Hidden Histories is based on the premise that lots of histories have been hidden over time—and that gay history, while the most completely submerged, is just one of many.  The curriculum asks that you start off the new year with a framework, but that you don’t have to change any of your curriculum.  The framework, and subsequently turning your students into little detectives, will bridge the interim for you.

The hardest thing facing California teachers, in regards to this law, is that most people, including myself, have never heard gay history.  So requiring teachers to teach it will be difficult unless you teach them gay history first—and provide them some ideas, lesson plans, curriculum. And giving them only till January to comply is hard… I think you should rather that the schools devise a Teacher training day in the spring, to come up with curriculum.

Anyway, over there at the other blog, I gave my ideas–and hopefully people will feel free to use them.

Best reason for this teaching LGBT stuff in classrooms:

“Within the typical secondary school curriculum, homosexuals do not exist. They are ‘nonpersons’ in the finest Stalinist sense. They have fought no battles, held no offices, explored nowhere, written no literature, built nothing, invented nothing and solved no equations. The lesson to the heterosexual student is abundantly clear: homosexuals do nothing of consequence. To the homosexual student, the message has even greater power: no one who has ever felt as you do has done anything worth mentioning.” -Gerald Unks, editor, The Gay Teen, p. 5.